Monday, April 29, 2019

A Deep Dive Into The Spoilers of "Avengers: Endgame"

So yesterday was pretty fun. Especially since I finally got to see "Avengers: Endgame." The spoiler free review I wrote was nice, but I felt like I barely talked about the film itself. "Avengers: Endgame" is one of those movies where you really need to discuss the text in order to really appreciate its achievements and lament its failures. So let's take a deep dive into spoilers, huh?

The Plot
I felt yesterday that I could barely talk about the plot of the movie without giving away some major twists of the film. Also because it feels like there are two movies at play here. Like I said yesterday, the first half could be described as a comic book episode of "The Leftovers." The heroes are trying to figure out how to find Thanos. While investigating, they find energy waves similar to those found on Earth after Thanos' snap on another planet. So Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Banner, Rocket, War Machine, Nebula and Captain Marvel (who just got to Earth after bring Tony Stark and Nebula home) pay Thanos a visit. Stark is still recovering from his weak state from space, so he doesn't come along. When the find Thanos, he admits to destroying the stones, an act that nearly killed him. There is absolutely no way to revert his snap. In Thor's anger, he kills Thanos. Not a bad twenty-minute movie, huh? Time to go home?

Except the movie picks back up five years later. Stark and Pepper are finally married, and have a daughter named Morgan. Thor has brought the remaining Asgardians home (all of whom apparently escaped Thor's original encounter with Thanos) and are living in a fishing community in Norway. Among the survivors were Valkyrie, Korg and Miek! We finally catch up with Hawkeye, who lost his family to the snap, and has become a ruthless vigilante, basically punishing criminals for not turning to dust, while so many innocent, decent people did. The rest of the Avengers are just trying to cope, something that's been hard five years later.

Did you see "Ant-Man and The Wasp?" Good. Remember during the mid-credit scene when Hank Pym, Janet Pym and Hope send him into the quantum realm and then get dusted by Thanos' snap so they can't bring him back? Well, Ant-Man finally escapes the quantum realm. While he's been gone for five hours, he quickly notices that Earth has passed five years. He realizes through his time in the quantum realm that time travel is possible and that they can travel back, retrieve the stones and reverse Thanos' snap that way. It takes some convincing to Stark, the best mind who can actually create a time machine, onboard. But he does join his old team.

The next half of the movie feels like a Marvel Cinematic Universe greatest hits CD. The Avengers split into teams and go around time collecting the stones. We relive scenes from the first "Avengers" movie from 2012, "Thor: The Dark World" from 2013 and "Guardians of the Galaxy" from 2014. We also see stuff in a much different light. Its also a fairly shameless character walkway, as we see various characters from the MCU popping up here and there. The plot device that referred to in my review yesterday was in fact time travel. Time traveling seems to work differently in the MCU and while everything is well-explained, it basically says that the current timeline will change or be tampered with as long as The Avengers return all the stones after they done using them. Even though the Avengers fail here and there to get the stones. It's a very, very, very convenient explanation to the use of time travel without any of its affects we've seen throughout pop culture, a defining "take your cake and eat it too" explanation. But "Avengers: Endgame" was so ambitious and so relentlessly entertaining that I can shake off the messy time travel explanation. I've been a diehard fan of this series, and perhaps that's why I am able to meet this movie halfway with its few flaws. Not only was this a true culmination of the first twenty-two films of the MCU, its a celebration of the franchise.

Blink and you'll miss them
Would it really be that big of a spoiler to tell you that the good guys DO collect all the stones? This is a superhero movie, "Infinity War" was "Empire Strikes Back" so obviously "Endgame" works like "Return of the Jedi." The Avengers are successful eventually in getting the stones. Stark makes his own gauntlet and they agree to have Hulk try to snap all the dead back, since he's strongest and the stones are powered by a type of gamma radiation. Hulk nearly dies, but he pulls it off. Not before 2014 Nebula takes the place of present-day Nebula and uses the Avenger time machine to get Thanos and a massive army to attack Earth. Thanos, armed with a giant sword, brings his Black Order (remember, they are from 2014, so they weren't dead yet) as well as the Chitauri (who the Avengers fought in the first Avengers film), The Outriders (who they fought in Wakanda in Infinity War), The Sakaarans (who were enemies in Guardians of the Galaxy) to Earth to get the stones.

When all hope seems lost, we see all too familiar golden circles appearing behind Captain America. Not only is Doctor Strange bringing in all the heroes who got dusted in Infinity War (Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Falcon, Bucky, Groot, Scarlet Witch and Wasp) but Wong brings many of his fellow sorcerers to the battle. Black Panther brings Okoye, Shuri, M'Baku and a massive Wakandan army. Valkyrie brings an army of Asgardian soldiers, along with Korg and Miek. Also the Ravagers come to help fight. Oh and Pepper Potts finally suits up as Rescue, a Mack suit Stark made for her. If you thought certain heroes meeting for the first time and the giant battles in Infinity War were awesome, just wait until you see nearly every hero and secondary character the MCU has to offer all in one scene, fighting a massive battle.

I can't explain the scene to save my life. In fact, I want to see the movie again just so I can really focus on the scene. The movie throws so much at you in its final twenty minutes that it literally is mind-boggling. I will say that the scene is so cool that I wish we got more people in. Where's Stakar Ogord and his Ravagers team? Where's Nakia? In the comics, Nick Fury enters big battles with a gun bigger than he is, where was that? Hell, I would have even taken Sharon Carter. There will definitely be a conversation had with Marvel fantics about what would have been even more badass to see, regarding this big battle scene.

He is worthy
There's that great scene in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," after Stark throws a big party. All the Avengers are sitting around Thor's original hammer, the Mjolnir. They all take turns trying to pick it up, see if they are worthy. They all fail miserably. Captain America, however, nudges the hammer. But he doesn't lift it. Many people have said that Cap isn't worthy. This is something I've been arguing against for years now. You are either worthy of the power of Thor, or you are not. There is no middle ground. Cap wouldn't be able to nudge it if he wasn't worthy. But he knows deep down what this power means to Thor, and how seriously he takes the responsibility. He'd never want to show-up one of his friends, so Cap has been pretending not to be worthy this whole time.  That is precisely why he's Captain Freaking America, because he makes decisions like that. Captain America was worthy of the hammer in the comics, he's used it many times in the books. I knew it was only a matter of time before movie Cap finally picked it up. In "Avengers: Endgame," Thor and Rocket travel back to "Thor: The Dark World" to collect the reality stone. While there, Thor gets his mjolnir back. At the end of the movie when Thanos attacks, Iron Man, Cap and Thor fight Thanos before all the other characters show up. In this three-on-one fight, Cap FINALLY PICKS UP MJOLNIR. Thor happily blurts out "I knew it!"

So did we, Thor. So did we. Finally after years and movies waiting for it. We finally got it.

It really is all connected
Since 2013, many networks have worked on television shows that take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We have got "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on ABC. "Agent Carter" ran for two seasons also on ABC. Netflix had shows about Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and The Punisher. Hulu currently still has "The Runaways" going. Finally, Freeform still has seasons of "Cloak and Dagger" running. All of them taking place in the greater universe with the movies.

That interlocking continuity never felt like a two-way street though. In the shows, sometimes a minor character from the movies would guest-star, or a name from the movies would get dropped. Or certain things from the movies would affect aspects of a show. But he shows never seemed to affect the movies. For the longest time, many fans thought they had been duped. Maybe these shows don't really take place in the greater MCU.

Well, that can be officially put to bed now. Stark and Cap time travel to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in 1970 to gather the Space Stone. While there, Stark has a run in with his dad, Howard Stark, before he was born. Its an oddly beautiful scene. But the geekiest part was that the actor who plays Edwin Jarvis, the Stark family loyal butler, is the same actor who played the character on "Agent Carter" for two seasons. (James D'arcy is the actor's name) For the first time in these movies, a TV character and actor have crossed over from TV show to movie. It is finally a two-way street. I can only hope that there will be a greater connection between the shows and the movies going forward! It really is all connected, and not for marketing reasons!

Life, Death and The End
The film's epic final battle finally comes to an end when Stark uses the stones to make Thanos and his army disappear. He is successful and Thanos finally dies, with all life he took throughout the universe restored. The rub though, and this is when things got really emotional, is that using the stones mortally wounded Stark and while Spider-Man and Pepper all have final moments with Stark and as his fellow Avengers look on in dismay, Stark dies. The scene, as well as the funeral scene afterward, had many people in my theater (including me) tearing up and crying. I've read about crying in may auditoriums all over the place. Robert Downey Jr was the face of this franchise for many years. It rebooted his career, he got the MCU off and running. Not only that though, but he set the tone for the style of the MCU as a whole. This entire franchise owes so much to Robert Downey Jr and the great work he did bringing Iron Man to life. Believe me, everyone was feeling it in the theater.

Before the battle, Hawkeye and Black Widow go to retrieve the Soul Stone from Red Skull. If you remember from Infinity War, you must sacrifice a soul for a soul. That is why Thanos brought Gamora to get it, he had to kill her in order to get the Soul Stone. We know how close Hawkeye and Black Widow are to each other. No, their relationship was never romantic, but they were such tight friends, they were practically siblings. But Red Skull makes it clear that they won't get the Soul Stone unless one of them dies. Hawkeye and Black Widow fight to jump off the legendary cliff. Ultimately, its BLACK WIDOW who makes it all the way down. (I guess it makes more sense now that her solo movie coming soon is going to be a prequel.) I have to say, Scarlet Johansson grew on me over the years. I actually dreaded her casting in 2009 when it was announced she'd play the character. I never cared for her much as an actress, and I vastly preferred Emily Blunt for the character. I think as ScarJo has played her, she has grown as an actress. Now, I can't imagine anybody else in the role. She did magnificent work, and I even got teary eyed as Hawkeye mourned her death.

After the battle and Stark's funeral, all seems to be going back to normal. Captain America agrees to take the stones and Thor's hammer back in time to before they took them, so that nothing damages their timeline. The thing is...Cap never comes back. Falcon and Winter Soldier spot an old man sitting near where they are. They see that its an ELDERLY CAPTAIN AMERICA. Now, some people thought this plot point didn't make sense, that its out of character for Cap, that it contradicts "Agent Carter" as a show. But Cap does indeed go back in time to have a life with Peggy Carter. The life he never got. He finally went and got that dance. It seems they married.

Now, Cap doesn't do this because he's "selfish" or any of the other names he's been called on the internet. The death of Stark struck a cord with him, and he says he decided to take his advice. He goes back for the only girl he ever loved. We also don't know what date he got back to her, SO it may not have contradicted anything we saw on the show, we will never know since it got cancelled.

"But wait, Shawn, will Cap really just sit around and watch HYDRA infiltrate SHIELD?" Well, telling from how time travel works in this movie, it seems since its future Captain America, going back, technically he beat HYDRA, helped save the world countless times and ALSO went back and got the girl he always wanted. Like I said above, "take your cake and eat it too." This scene clearly isn't working for everyone. Yes, this ending is a little rough around the edges. But you know what. Captain America has been a man out of time. He served in World War II and fell in love with a girl. He had to fly a plain into ice in order to save the world. He didn't get to be with that girl he fell in love with. He woke up 70 years in the future. He was a man out of time. He never quite fit in. Then he found out his best friend was manipulated by terrorists, that his country's defense apparatus was compromised. He's made decisions that nearly left him friendless. All while never finding true love. After all of that, Cap deserved a happy ending more than just about any other character. So even though its a flawed ending for Cap, I am so glad it was a happy one.

Also, this is happening in the future...
Yep. He passed his shield to Falcon!

There was no mid-credit scene to this film and not much set up to other movies. I mean sure, Falcon will be the next Captain. Thor appointed Valkyrie as Queen of the Asgardians and has joined The Guardians of the Galaxy in space (imagine how awesome "Guardians of the Galaxy 3" is going to be knowing this information) but that's basically it. This really felt like absolute completion to a story starting eleven years ago.

As the last few scenes play out, it is clear that the time travel stuff will make your head hurt if you think about it too much. It was weird watching Peter Parker go back to high school, catching up with Ned like nothing happened. All the while Ant-Man's daughter Cassie is five years older. It's weird that Nebula killed her past self with no consequence. We also do see Loki escape 2012 New York with the Space Stone, which prompts Stark and Cap to go back further in time. But you know what? Perhaps these are set ups for other stories. Perhaps these points will be examined in the future, we just don't know it yet. We don't know what Spider-Man will be up to once he returns this summer in "Far From Home." So for now, I am going to relax and see if anything really does come of this. If nothing does, well, superheroes have been time traveling, bending time and reality for decades. With little to no consequence. So you know what, I give the movie a little leeway. Ultimately, this is massively entertaining movie. The characters still feel perfect. The movie is ambitious, and it took some risks. I give credit for that. It is still a great blend of humor and drama and only the Russo brothers can uniquely create. I left the theater satisfied. There is no perfect movie, even the classics have some flaws or things I feel I'd do differently. So for me, I can't get too caught up in something as abysmal as how time travel works. Maybe if somebody finally gets around to inventing a time machine, maybe I'll feel differently. Point being, this was a great season finale to this first giant chunk of MCU storytelling and I look forward to the future. No matter what it looks like!

No comments:

Post a Comment